It’s that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen! Things are going to get real crazy, real fast as NFL Week 1 kicks into high gear Sunday.
Looking at the point spreads for the 15 remaining games on this week’s schedule, it’s clear that some favorites are ripe for an upset. So which teams are going to get the upset train running at high speed this weekend?
Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings (-4)
The Vikings may have a good chance in this one, because the Falcons haven’t technically generated a winning record just yet. But make no mistake about it, Atlanta is a winning football team. And we know that Kirk Cousins is historically atrocious against teams with a winning record.
On top of that, Atlanta’s dynamic secondary is healthy again. If the Falcons can generate some pass rush up front, then Cousins will struggle like he did this preseason.
On the other side, Atlanta’s potent offense is set to take flight against a Vikings defense that will be without cornerback Mike Hughes, who was a first-round pick last year.
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets (-2.5)
As we’ve been shouting from the rooftops since early in the summer, don’t sleep on this Bills team. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen appears to have taken a huge step in his development, and the offense is generally miles ahead of where it was in 2018 thanks to a revamped offensive line and significantly improved receiving corps.
On the other side, Robby Anderson is questionable for the Jets, who also have cornerback Trumaine Johnson questionable due to a sore hamstring.
There’s a chance Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell lead a dynamic offensive attack that catches the Bills by surprise. However, it’s worth pointing out that the Buffalo defense is going to be scary good, and that Bell hasn’t played in over a year. He could struggle out of the gate.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
It’s easy to assume that the Colts are going to hit some hard times this season in the wake of Andrew Luck’s retirement. Yet we shouldn’t assume that Jacoby Brissett is going to fail. In fact, he looked really good this summer and has the added benefit of having practiced with the Colts starting offense throughout training camp. So he’s not being thrown to the wolves.
Additionally, Indy has some enticing talent on offense to complement Brissett. Marlon Mack appears to be ready for a full load as the featured back. The offensive line is dominant. Eric Ebron is capable of going off every week (and he won’t have Derwin James, who is on injured reserve, to contend with), and the receiving corps is downright dangerous.
All the Colts need is a stellar game from their potent defense, and for Brissett to just let the game come to him. If they can see those two things come together, then a road win is certainly within reach.
Detroit Lions (-3) vs. Arizona Cardinals
There are some solid reasons to believe that the Lions will win their road opener. They feature a defense that, on paper, should be better than it was last year. They also are going against a rookie quarterback and a Cardinals defense that could struggle to get off the field this season.
On the other hand, the Cardinals are a complete unknown quantity at this time. They didn’t really reveal any of their offensive scheme during preseason games, going with a completely vanilla approach so as to not tip their hand.
If we’re to believe what guys like Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson have said about Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, Kyler Murray is set to absolutely go off on the league — at least early in the year.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots (-6)
Sure, the Patriots rarely lose at home. Heck, they don’t really lose very often at all. Yet the time to catch them seems to be early in the season, and there are a few legitimate reasons to believe the Steelers could actually romp to victory Sunday night.
First off, the Patriots feature new faces at important positions. Their offensive line could potentially take some time to gel following the loss of starting center David Andrews. That may be a huge problem this weekend going against a dynamic Steelers front seven.
The Pats also have to somehow replace Rob Gronkowski. And they have to slow down what appears to be a potential juggernaut Pittsburgh offense. Don’t be surprised if the defending champs end up getting boat raced out of their own building in Week 1.
Houston Texans vs. New Orleans Saints (-7)
This is quite an interesting Monday night matchup. The Saints were one bad call away from going to the Super Bowl last year and could potentially be even better in 2019. Yet Houston is no slouch on either side of the ball.
The Texans are going to be better up front offensively this year than they were a year ago. That’s great news for Deshaun Watson, who should finally have some time in the pocket to deal strikes downfield. He has weapons, too, despite the season-ending injury to Lamar Miller, whose replacement Duke Johnson is poised to have a breakout campaign.
If Houston’s defense can pressure Drew Brees up front and avoid giving up the big play, then this game is one the Texans can win.